If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

– Lilla Watson

2018 was a year of monumental growth for Invisible Children. Thanks to new partnerships with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. State Department as well as to the generosity of incredible supporters around the world, we were able to significantly expand the reach of our programs. Today, we are working alongside some of the most remote, and previously unreachable communities in central Africa, helping them prevent violence and keep each other safe from armed group conflict.

Through all of the growth and change, we’ve held fast to the values that guide us, and brought grit to every element of our work. We always remain ready to adapt, innovate, and collaborate to make people safer and help them to thrive. Grit isn’t just a value, it is a necessity.

The areas where we work come with unprecedented challenges — from ongoing armed group violence to completely impassable roads. In many communities where Invisible Children works today, we are the only international organization present.

In our Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Report, we share some specific examples of how our projects, partnerships, and achievements from the last year embody some of our most closely-held values.

Putting grit into practice in Fiscal Year 2018.

In April 2016, a Ugandan man named Opio Samuel Murefu defected from the LRA in the Central African Republic (CAR) after spending more than half his life in the bush. While it’s normal procedure for Ugandan LRA defectors to be repatriated to Uganda, Opio was detained and sent to a Central African prison. He should have been reunited with his family; instead his story ended in tragedy. Opio survived LRA captivity for more than 20 years and successfully escaped, only to die in prison while his family awaited his return.

About two years later, another Ugandan man defected from the LRA in CAR, and he was at risk of suffering the same fate as Opio Sam. Patrick Kidega had been abducted by the LRA as a 15-year-old boy. After spending his next 15 years with the LRA, he bravely defected in December of 2017. He was immediately taken into custody by Central African police in Obo, CAR, with no indication of what might happen to him. Aware that Patrick could easily fall through the cracks of the system the way Opio had, our global team worked tirelessly with our partners for the next four months, advocating with local, national, and international policymakers for Patrick’s release from prison and return to Uganda. Finally, in April 2018, Patrick was released, flown back to Uganda, and reunited with his family.

This is just one example of how Invisible Children’s determination, grit, and fierce belief in the value of every life has been put into practice.

When you give to Invisible Children, you can trust that your donation is helping to build a world in which the most vulnerable among us have the safety they need and deserve. In Fiscal Year 2018, 83% of our expenses went toward programs that are making communities across central Africa safer. The other 17% helped make it all possible — including allowing us to build essential infrastructure to improve the quality and effectiveness of our programs.